In the last couple of years, five people I was close to passed away. With one exception, all were under the age of 45. Three of them were under the age of 35.
When people ask me “weren’t you scared to make aliyah?” I sometimes tell them that I was in New York for 9/11, so why be afraid of Israel? And sometimes I tell them “Five of my friends died in the last two years. All of them died in America, of natural causes. If it’s your time to go, it’s your time to go.”
Sometimes I think about them and I get sad. I’ll be folding laundry, or riding in a taxi, and I'll suddenly remember Seth. Or Jenny. Or Aaron. Or Mikey. Or Miss Steiff. And I get tears in my eyes, like I am right now, because I miss them, and because most of them were so young when they died. It seems so unfair.
OK, so I’m crying now.
I feel like I should do something to honor their memories. I’ve been meaning to learn Masechet Makot (it’s short and I’m fascinated by the concept of eidim zomemin), but I keep learning the first few dapim, and then leaving it for weeks or months, and then forgetting the thread and having to re-learn it from the beginning. If they are up there somewhere counting on me to learn a masechet of gemara in their memories, I’m afraid I’m proving to be a big loser. I think I need to choose something that doesn't have a "thread" like that, something I can put down for a week and then pick up again, like a certain chunk of Mishnah Brurah or something. I'll work on figuring that out.
But I also want to do something “olam hazeh”-oriented, something that will help other people who are still here. Unfortunately, I don’t earn enough to give a ton of tzedaka, and I’m not so “into” volunteering for the old or needy, much as I hate to say that.
Any ideas? I’m particularly interested in hearing from people who knew these friends of mine. What would be a meaningful project? I’m hoping that if I hear enough ideas, eventually I’ll hear one that makes me say “yes, that’s perfect. It’s something I can do, given my time and my talents, and something they would be proud of.”
If I can focus on doing something positive, maybe I won’t feel so sad.